The onset of the pandemic in 2019 turned the economy of the world upside down. Coming face to face with these acute challenges, businesses learned to cope. Hence, the newest business trends were born which kept not only the small businesses afloat but also helped larger ones deflect bankruptcy.
These techniques for business management, employee engagement, and customer service changed the business platform for generations to come. It’s not an overstatement to say that this long term economic crisis has altered customers’ and employees’ needs and lifestyles.
The business landscape might seem unpredictable but it is not the case. The contours for post-COVID small business trends have started to come into focus and from where we are standing, it looks like these trends are here to stay. So, what are these new trends and why is it important for business to get equipped with these? Let’s take a deeper look!
Why Is It Necessary to Know About the Newest Business Trends?
Trends in business alter depending upon the needs, wants and tastes of customers. The only way to keep a business open is to have knowledge about consumer demand and to fulfil these demands with everything you have. Customers’ needs decide the ebb and flow of business trends and a successful business makes sure that its supply is in line with customers’ needs.
Customers’ demands and taste change over time as a result of various factors. Some of the important factors contributing to change in customers’ demands are
- Drastic climate changes
- Rapidly shifting political landscape of the world
- Changing balance of economic powers
Whatever factors are involved in the shift of customer needs, if you want to keep your business open and flourishing, you need to stay updated and understand the newest business trends.
In short, to keep your business relevant, you need to know how customers are spending their money and where.
How Can You Make the Most Out of Small Business Trends?
A flourishing business either is a trend setter or a close follower! If your business belongs in the latter group, small business trends provide a golden opportunity to grow your business if you keep the following things in mind:
- Vigilance is the key to identifying changing trends. It will allow you to pick up on emerging trends quickly and to maximize your return on them.
- While planning the business budget, make sure that you include an appropriate budget for trend identification. This will allow you to keep up with the changes.
- Keep a very sharp eye on the latest developments in your industry. Analyze how the companies in the same business as you are responding to a certain trend and add creativity to it!
Customers know what they want; you just have to present their wants in a more palatable form and a thorough knowledge of the newest business trends helps you do that. You can utilize new business trends by adding innovation and creativity to them.
Latest Trends in Business — Expectations and Coping Strategies
In 2021, many of us expected that the world would go back to the way it was when vaccines started rolling out. If anything, the world went into a deeper economic imbalance than before with the appearance of new strains and increased inflation. In 2022, this much is clear that the world is only going to get more volatile. Even if the new variants stop wreaking havoc, the trends of the business world have already shifted towards more remote and online working. To understand these shifts better, here is a breakdown of the major factors that decide what’s in.
No matter what small business trends point at, the trend that is forever important is ensuring satisfactory experience of employees in the workplace and the absolute contentment of customers with the service. In a workplace, two major factors that will decide the new trends of the platform are
- Employees’ experience
- Customer service
Trends Shaped by Employee Experience
A business is the sum of the great minds and bodies working to achieve shared goals. The satisfaction and contentment of every employee is important. If you do not look after your employees properly, best results simply can’t be achieved. For small businesses especially, even a single employee makes a huge difference. It is essential that the needs of employees are met and healthy work ethics are maintained to achieve the best results.
With free time on their hands in 2021, employees have reset their priorities and goals which is now the leading force behind the formation of trends in business.
1.Remote Working — A New Normal:
The pandemic has changed lifestyles and expectations enormously. The changes that occurred during this period must be accommodated properly for the sake of business growth. During the pandemic, large and small businesses alike were faced with a massive challenge: working from home!
Never in a million years would anyone have ever thought about handling big enterprises virtually. For the survival of their businesses, employers threw everything they had into making work from home feasible and productive. There is no doubt that it proved successful.
By 2021, most big and small businesses were working remotely through their computers. Where some big companies like Twitter and Dropbox went virtual, others like Goldman Sachs publicly rejected remote work by calling it “a pure negative”. A survey done by Forbes showed a highly positive response towards remote working by 20,000 employees, declaring that “remote work is here to stay.”
Employees have started enjoying the flexibility that remote work provides. After spending more than a year working from home and achieving set goals, they don’t want to dress up every single day and sit out the long office hours. Remote working also provides employees with ample time to spend with their families and to learn new skills (skills which they kept putting off for “when I have the time” and they never seemed to have any time).
It is impossible for all businesses to become virtual but the businesses that have the margin to achieve this should definitely get on board with this newest business trend to have more satisfied employees working to grow the business as their own.
Another trend that followed work from home was a rise in employee communication apps. Use of these apps had a major role in the success of remote working. If you’re just getting on the bandwagon, do your research and select the one that is most suitable for your business so that remote work can be your new normal too.
2. Increased Need of Human Connection:
One major drawback of remote and hybrid working is that it goes against the universal fact that human beings are social animals. It is impossible for humans to exist without any meaningful social connection with fellow beings. Working in an isolated environment where the only connection you have with the outside world is through messages and emails is detrimental for physical and mental health.
Research done by Dr. Emma Seppala supports the fact that social loneliness is worse for physical and mental health than obesity and high blood pressure. Employees’ good mental and physical health is necessary for productivity, efficiency, and quality of work. Employees are the precious assets of any business and their well-being should be considered under all circumstances.
It is imperative that moving forward, large and small business trends consider employees’ needs for social connections if they have gone completely virtual.
For large companies with hundreds and thousands of employees, it is very difficult to connect with everyone, but it is not impossible. If you are working remotely, you can start your video meetings with a little prompt instead of getting straight to the business. Start with asking about employees’ days and how they’ve been.
On the other hand, it is comparatively easier to build employee bonding where people are physically around each other. Both small and large enterprises can promote social connections among their employees by arranging various team building activities. Whether it’s virtual or real, it is important to cultivate a company culture where everything is not always about work because human beings need to let loose a little in order to reach their full potential.
3. Better Work-Life Balance
Working from home has blurred the lines between personal and professional lives. People have become more used to working flexible hours and getting work done when it suits them. Shockingly, these flexible hours made people put more hours into work than in pre-pandemic times.
A survey at the end of 2020 concluded that 45 percent of people are working 2.5 hours more than before and even on the weekends due to blurred boundaries between work and life. Normally when a person leaves his office, it naturally creates a boundary. The person then goes home and unwinds. But when a person’s bedroom is both his office and his place to relax, it is very difficult to form any boundaries and disconnect. This can lead to severe burnout in employees.
Hence, the newest business trends in 2022 will have a more focused approach towards work-life balance. Business owners should make sure that they provide this balance to their employees.
To ensure a better work-life balance for your employees, you should enforce some strict rules. There should be no professional contact between the employer and employee about work after office hours so that both parties can decompress. Leniency should be shown in some crucial areas. When there is an emergency or the employee needs to take care of someone sick, he should not be in fear of getting fired. If the work is remote, the cloud communication app being used should be designed in a way that it provides the option of “do not disturb” to both the employee and employer. The messages will still be received but the person with “do not disturb” activated will not receive notifications unless he looks for the messages himself; thus, creating the necessary boundaries.
4. Tackling Employee Burnout
Burnout is a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. It is often considered that burnout is an individual’s problem but research done by Jennifer Moss in 2019 concluded that “Burnout Is About Your Workplace, Not Your People”.
Burnout leads to lower productivity and efficiency by the employees which is harmful for both the individual and the company. The most common causes of burnout are increased workload, pressure, lack of support, and a broken psychological contract between the employer and employee.
Rising awareness about burnout will shape the newest business trends and small businesses should start taking measures to ensure employee protection from burnout.
First of all, there needs to be a deep understanding of burnout and factors causing it. You should hold an anonymous survey to find out the thoughts of your employees and then work accordingly. Some general factors to be considered are
- Appropriate number of work hours.
- Self respect of each employee.
- Provision of a proper support system.
- Providing an environment where an individual’s unique strengths can be accentuated.
5. A Rise in Employee Retention Strategies
Everyone has to look after themselves in the best way they can. In this fast paced era, employees, on finding better opportunities, will switch firms in the blink of an eye. How do you keep your employees linked to your business? Train them in new skills and promote them.
Make them realize that by staying with this business they are also growing individually. According to research done by American Society For Training and Development, firms that invest in the training of employees have 24 percent higher profit.
Future small business trends will include employee training and to stay afloat you should consider the same.
Communication is the key to understanding what your employees need. Sit with them and have an open discussion about what it is that they aspire to be. After getting their responses, formulate a plan of action to introduce the necessary training. The business’ budget, employees’ workloads, and time constraints should be properly considered while making a plan.
Trends Shaped by Customer Service
Along with taking care of employees, customer demands should also be met because after all, customers are the ones consuming the services you provide. If you want maximum customer engagement, keep an eye on the newest business trends!
1. Conscious Spending
Global climate change has been a deciding factor in people’s shopping decisions since 2019.
A survey in 2019 showed that 35 percent of people would rather buy sustainable and eco-friendly products. This percentage increased to 50% in 2021. People are becoming more conscious about what to invest money in and this attitude will set the trends in business in the near future. To stay ahead in this game, businesses have started taking advantage of this trend and are introducing products that will meet this consumer need more.
Converting your products into eco-friendly ones is not an easy task; it requires meticulous efforts. Furthermore, making your business green is a slow process that will require concerted devotion. You should start by doing a thorough survey of the products you’re providing and the raw materials that are being used in the production. This should be followed by a process to convert the raw materials into eco-friendly ones, starting from the products that bring in more profit and are customer favorites. If you have a product that customers will love, you should put efforts in marketing the best qualities of that product and see how the customers respond to that.
2. Online Business Presence
The past decade showed an explosive rise in the ecommerce industry. Everything is now being sold and bought over the internet — everything! The new dynamic has reshaped the commercial activities and customers’ expectations around the world. For businesses to bloom, a strong online presence is an essential step, one that will prove a game changer considering the direction in which the newest business trends are going. You can use the rising trend of ecommerce to benefit your business.
To make the most of this trend it is crucial to reconsider your business model. Think hard about what benefits you are providing to your customers and how these benefits can get better and faster. Formulate a well-managed plan to make it easier for people to approach your business for ordering or making an appointment online. The goal is to make your business available at all times, just a click away.
3. Customer Self-Service
Customer self-service is one of the most important trends to watch in 2022. The best service you can provide is to help customers help themselves. Harvard Business Review concluded that 81 percent of people prefer self-service over contacting organizational authorities. With the right resources, a customer can solve his inquiries faster than a service representative can.
Small businesses should take advantage of this emerging phenomenon.
The provision of self-service can be achieved by forming FAQ pages, comprehensive customer guides and an automated chatbox on your websites. Self-service will not only make things easier for customers but it will also take the burden off employees.
4. Social Media Platforms
Along with a strong online presence in the form of websites, customers also expect to see their favorite businesses on social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, twitter and LinkedIn.
The chances of a small business being recognized on social media are higher than the chances of a small business being recognized through a website because an average person of the 20th century spends most of his time scrolling through social media. If you are looking for small business trends that actually make a huge difference, try being more active on social media.
Sign up on all available social media platforms. Make sure that you assign the appropriate amount of your budget to handle the social media presence of your business. You can also run a campaign through paid promotions by contacting various social media influencers or by buying ads.
5. Balancing Personalization in Support Interaction
Customers would love not to wait in a long queue for a simple matter that can be solved by a simple FAQ page but what about complicated matters? That’s where live support is highly appreciated. Another way of personalized contact with customers is through using their names. Wondering how? Sending out emails or automated text messages using customers’ names to greet them will do the trick! All in all, it is important that a careful balance is maintained between technology and human interactions while dealing with customers because tipping the balance on either side will result in loss of the customers’ trust or, in the worst case scenario, loss of the customer himself.
With the changing landscape of the world, it was about time that trends be revolutionized. Employees and customers are the central theme for the newest trends. All you need to do is to calibrate which approach is best for you and your business. Following the latest trends in business, if done properly, will help grow your enterprise tremendously. No one can predict what 2022 has in store but if your business is resilient, it can cope with anything!